This video was the first collaborative effort between Jesse Burtner and myself. I graduated high school in 1993 and went back to my shop/technology teacher, Mr. Bernard, and asked to use the video editing equipment. Abe Bombeck, Khris Bombeck, and myself made a horribly janky video, filmed almost entirely on a full size vhs camera, from the 1992/93 winter, and titled it “Against the Grain.” Well, I was hooked after that. I would film skating and snowboarding when ever i had spare time and would produce a video each season of myself and a couple friends. The vids were only a couple songs long but I loved making them and would send them out as a way to show my sponsors what I was doing.
We first showed “Against the Grain” before a Boarderline movie premier at the now defunct Mia Culpa coffee shop. You’ll see how rough the video was when i post it in the near future. The part i remember most about that premier was that despite how low budget and ghetto the video was, I was so proud of it. I was proud of it because I knew the Bombecks and I were onto something. I knew we were pushing snowboarding and we were doing it from a tiny hill. We were hitting street spots and all kinds of things that people just weren’t doing in AK. Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. The point I am trying to get to is that was the night Jesse Burtner showed a movie he made too (if my memory serves me correctly). I knew, actually i think we both knew we had found a kindred spirit in the desire to make these videos.
We didn’t come together for a few years but when we did we formed something that was magic. It wasn’t magical in the camera work or ground breaking riding. It was magical in that it became something that unified the community. When i say the community i’m speaking of the snow and skate community in Alaska. We were able to capture our friends, our mountains, our town, our home. We were able to capture, box, and present that thing that makes people fall in love with riding a board in Alaska.
There are kids that will watch this that didn’t snowboard before gopro was invented. They just won’t understand how a grainy video, with sketch riding, could be anything other than a waste of server space. Hopefully most of you will look a little deeper and catch a glimpse of what it was like when everyone in the scene knew each other and rode together. Hopefully you will crack a little smile as you are reminded of what it was like when every mission was just piling into the car and bringing the camera along to catch what ever you stumbled upon.
This video was made at a time when I was still working at Boarderline. In the summer, when I came back from my pursuit of being a professional fun-haver, I would go back to my position of board slinger at the shop. It was before I ever got a paycheck from a company or had a computer to edit on. Actually it was made before we even edited on computers at all. Jesse and I returned to Chugiak High School and Mr. Bernard’s Technology lab to edit this video on a linear system. For those that don’t know what that is it is basically playing a tape in one vcr ( and if you don’t know what that is then we might be in trouble) while recording the shots you want on another vcr. You have to record each clip in the order you want it to go (in a line) and there is no going back and inserting. Think of it as putting together a string of train cars.
As you watch this video I hope you notice some things so I’ll point them out just to make it easier. The video showcases the skating of Think Skateboards pro Adrian Williams, Big Brother magazine cover shot holder Micah Hollinger, and Thrasher cover shot holder Jerry Smythe. Notice how small Adrian and Jerry are back then. Also this video has shots from what I believe was the first ever Boarderline snowboard camp. Another notable fact is that I am indeed pushing mongo in my skate shots. As a former Mongo, I can tell you that its like being left or right handed; its just how you set the board and start pushing. I can also tell you that I am proof that Mongo doesn’t have to ruin your life, it can be overcome. The first few movies I pushed Mongo then I taught myself to push the right way. Its never too late to learn to push correctly. There is plenty more to enjoy with this video but I’ll let you explore it for yourself.
This is not the traditional magazine shot but the rules are somewhat loose here. As long as it’s been in print then it works. This was the promotional poster printed up for Alpenglow when they sponsored my movie “Nice! Gordon.” The main shot and the first of the three stacked photos are of myself. The karate kid is Andre Spinelli and the stylish backside 180 is Walter Bombeck. All the shots were taken by Alex “Lord have mertzy” Mertz. And only I can take credit for the ridiculous fake Burberry jacket.
I chose this one because I always have such a fond place in my heart for Alpenglow. The oh so popular diving board platform that I’m launching off seems like a great feature to mess around on but it serves as a reminder of the greatness that once occupied that space. The platform is the base of the top tower of the lift that was once on that side of the ski area. “The military side” as it was simply known was as simple as Paris Hilton’s mind yet held an endless potential for fun. The one lift was run by the military until it was shut down and the lift and lodge removed in 2003.
As I grew up in Eagle River, Alpenglow was the spot to be and the military side was the spot to get busy. The military side boasted a round lodge with a fireplace in the middle, a cook named TC that was the saltiest sweet old lady you ever met, and a manager named Jeff who’s hair-do had one of the meanest spiked parts and a solid mullet foundation. What they also had was a willingness to open the mountain to us and let a shredder shred. They gave us the freedom we sought and reeled us back in if we got out of line. And through that give and take a great deal of respect formed. It’s amazing how angsty teens will act if you don’t treat them like a fire that you’re sure will rage out of control the second you take your eye off of it.
I’m starting to turn this into a throwback thursday so I’ll try to pull it back. The photos were taken in the spring of 2004 when I was shooting “Nice! Gordon” and it was awesome to work with Alpenglow. The year before, when working with Jesse Burtner on “Steezin for no Reason”, Alpenglow also came through with help in the form of features to ride and film on. I was just really happy to be able to give the mountain some dues for all it had given me in my snowboard infancy.
I have always been incredibly proud to have come from Alpenglow and I was just as proud to feature the mountain in my movie. The coat I’m wearing…. well, I probably won’t be as proud of that down the road.
Thursday I’ll give you another shot from Alpenglow and tell some of the adventures that I’ve been through on that hill.